Kaye Gilhooley

Kaye Gilhooley is based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Flash Frontier and Takahe. She lives by the beautiful Opawaho River at the foot of the Port Hills, watching dogs and their walkers pass by every day.  She hankers after a dog of her own.

GLORIA TIPENE by Kaye Gilhooley

Really? Is it? Gloria Tipene in layers of dirty designer dresses? Gloria Tipene with hay-thatch hair and farmer’s cheeks? Gloria Tipene who is watched and wondered about aloud, shuffles along the street stopping at each bin and lamppost and shop window that catches her magpie eye; carries her life in a performance of plastic bags, string-tied parcels, pull-behind and push-forward trolleys; whispering harshly and sometimes shouting her lines.

Is that Gloria Tipene, dazzled by the display of gold and rubies and pearls and diamonds, dreamily tracing the circles of engagement rings, wedding rings and earrings with her skinny dirt-encrusted fingernail. Lingering on miniature markers of life’s journey she gently taps, strokes the glass-bound dog and breathes. Startled by the sudden appearance of a shop assistant, drops her finger and flees, melts into the mass of other people not like her.

Gloria Tipene, despite the grime and clutter, despite the owl hood eyes that can’t look up but see everything, despite the words that come with every shuffled step but never address another person, never more on a stage or film set to be heard and adored. 

Yet, Gloria Tipene holds inside the poise of unicorns and the daring of dragons. Rainbow blood pumps through her veins and heart and brain. She re-holds conversations with directors and artists and politicians, re-signs fans’ programmes, hands, arms. In her hand-stitched heart knows that she is loved by thousands and by no one.  

Glimpsed sometimes on the next street, by the traffic lights, under the bridge, I never get close enough to check, to gaze closely on that clue-filled weather-worn face. 

Gloria Tipene always just far enough away to never really be sure and one day will disappear and tread the pavement boards no more.

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TROUT by Kaye Gilhooley

I took up fishing late in life. My husband says I fish too much. The smooth length of the rod in my hand is powerful. Did you know my Daiwa carbon 9ft rod is rated to 15 kg? 15kg! That’s the weight of a small child.

I fish in the fast stream that borders the south of our farm. It’s the closest boundary to the house. It flows under the bridge and soon feeds into the river, wide and deep.

I took up fishing when my daughter went missing. Trout. My brother called her that because when she was a baby ready for feeding her little mouth opened and closed like a fish searching for flies.

And she loved the water. That hot summer I took her down to the stream every afternoon and dangled her feet in the cool rushing water. She giggled so much. “Again! Again!”

Never again.

Sometimes I stay all day, pacing up and down the solid bank, dragging the heavy line through the rippling water, the hook set low near the sinker to trace the bed. I’ve seen the odd strong fish in here.

We searched for her all around the farm, split up.

“Over here!” shouted one of the village boys.

Tiny silver shoes, scuffed on the toes, and Cat-in-the-Hat socks.

Abandoned on the bank.

They all came. Police in waders. Divers. The new Filipino priest.

I drag the hook along the stream bed. There are no rocks down there. No bumps or hollows. A smooth surface they said. Nothing to snag on.

I haven’t got time for fly-fishing. All that wasted back and forward motion. I need weight in my hand. Power. To get to the bottom.

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